Turkish naval mission to Japan: A historical & strategic outreach
    Marking century of diplomacy & Ertuğrul tragedy

    ANALYTICS  14 June 2024 - 15:26

    Fuad Muxtar-Agbabali

    The Turkish Navy's recent mission to Japan, marked by the visit of the TCG Kinaliada corvette, signifies a deep-rooted and evolving relationship between Türkiye and Japan. This visit commemorates the 100th anniversary of diplomatic ties and the 134th anniversary of the Ertuğrul frigate tragedy - a pivotal event that laid the foundation for Turkish-Japanese friendship. By exploring this historical bond and Türkiye’s broader engagement in East Asia, particularly its involvement in the Korean War, we can better understand Türkiye’s strategic outreach in the region.

    The tragic voyage of the Ertuğrul frigate

    Ertuğrul, launched in 1863, was a sailing frigate of the Ottoman Navy. While returning from a goodwill voyage to Japan in 1890, she encountered a typhoon off the Kushimoto coast of Wakayama Prefecture. It subsequently drifted into a reef and sank.

    This disaster resulted in the loss of over 500 crew members, but the heroic efforts of residents saved 69 survivors. The survivors were returned to Istanbul aboard two Imperial Japanese Navy vessels, marking a significant humanitarian gesture from the Japanese government. This tragic event became a cornerstone of Turkish-Japanese relations, symbolizing mutual respect and friendship.

    The arrival of the TCG Kinaliada in Kushimoto to commemorate this event reflects the enduring significance of the Ertuğrul tragedy. A memorial ceremony attended by Turkish naval officers and Japanese dignitaries, including Princess Akiko of Mikasa, underscored the deep historical ties between the two nations. As Princess Akiko remarked, “I pray that the history of friendship built by our many predecessors will continue for many years to come,” highlighting the continued importance of this relationship.

    Strengthening diplomatic & military ties

    The TCG Kinaliada's mission to Japan is part of a larger voyage involving visits to 20 countries over four and a half months. This extensive journey underscores Türkiye’s commitment to enhancing its diplomatic and military presence in Asia-Pacific. The mission includes not only ceremonial visits but also strategic objectives such as supporting anti-piracy efforts.

    Before arriving in Japan, the TCG Kinaliada visited several countries, including South Korea. Türkiye’s involvement in the Korean War is a significant aspect of its historical military engagements in East Asia. Turkish troops, fighting under the United Nations Command, played a crucial role in the conflict, demonstrating Türkiye’s commitment to international peace and security. This involvement has left a lasting legacy and strengthened Türkiye’s ties with South Korea.

    Türkiye’s outreach to Japan & beyond

    Türkiye’s current outreach to Japan, marked by the TCG Kinaliada’s visit, is a continuation of a series of engagements aimed at reinforcing diplomatic and military relations. This visit is particularly notable as it coincides with the centennial of diplomatic relations between Türkiye and Japan and the 134th anniversary of the Ertuğrul tragedy. The Turkish warship's presence in Japan and its open days for the public reflect a mutual interest in deepening these ties.

    Türkiye’s strategy involves more than commemorating historical events; it is about building on these foundations to forge new partnerships and collaborations. The visit to the Kure Naval Base in Hiroshima and the planned public engagements highlight the strategic importance of military diplomacy in strengthening bilateral relations.

    Building on historical foundations

    Türkiye’s strategy in East Asia is firmly rooted in historical relationships while also addressing contemporary geopolitical interests. The Ertuğrul tragedy serves as a poignant reminder of the historical bonds between Türkiye and Japan, and this legacy continues to inform and inspire modern diplomatic efforts.

    Türkiye’s involvement in the Korean War further emphasizes its historical military presence in East Asia. The bravery and sacrifices of Turkish troops during the conflict have cemented strong ties with South Korea. These historical engagements provide a backdrop for Türkiye’s current strategic initiatives in the region.

    Broader implications of Türkiye’s Asia-Pacific strategy

    Türkiye’s strategic outreach in East Asia, exemplified by the TCG Kinaliada’s mission, has broader implications for its global diplomatic and military strategy. By strengthening ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Türkiye is positioning itself as a key player in international geopolitics. This approach aligns with Türkiye’s efforts to diversify its alliances and enhance its global influence.

    The TCG Kinaliada’s visit to Japan also reflects Türkiye’s commitment to regional stability and security. The corvette’s mission includes supporting anti-piracy efforts and aligning with international initiatives to ensure maritime security. Türkiye’s collaboration with regional partners in these efforts underscores its proactive role in addressing global security challenges.

    Conclusion

    The Turkish Navy’s mission to Japan, marked by the visit of the TCG Kinaliada, celebrates a century of diplomatic relations and commemorates a tragic yet significant historical event. This visit underscores the deep-rooted friendship between Türkiye and Japan, while also highlighting Türkiye’s strategic outreach in the Asia-Pacific region.

    Türkiye’s involvement in the Korean War and its ongoing diplomatic and military engagements reflect a multifaceted approach to international relations, combining historical commemoration with strategic diplomacy and military collaboration. Through these initiatives, Türkiye is not only honoring its past but also actively shaping its future role in global geopolitics.

    Caliber.Az

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